Working to address mental health issues

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Mental health and addictions are growing concerns in Burlington and across Canada.

There has been a noticeable increase in cases due to the pandemic.

Healthcare providers and community supports need help to address these issues appropriately, care for increasing numbers of existing patients, and take steps to proactively mitigate further negative impacts and outcomes.

Due to an increase in cases, Joseph Brant Hospital (JBH) says there is an urgent need to expand and develop its hospital site and services. Its Mental Health and Addictions (MHA) Redevelopment Project will take steps to provide support and positively impact the health and well-being of our community, and develop specialist and partner programs, such as those that support early intervention, children and youth.

Council recently unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Premier and our MPPs to support our hospital’s request for provincial funding for this very important and timely project that will ensure the mental health and well-being of our community.

It has also been identified as the #1 priority for the Burlington Ontario Health Team and many community groups.

JBH noted that its inpatient unit and outpatient programs have been operating at capacity levels between 120 and 140 percent for nearly a decade. The current shortage of MHA beds results in “hallway health care” for patients hospitalized in unsuitable spaces.

A provincial capital funding commitment of $25 million will allow JBH to move into the next phase of its redevelopment project to reduce wait times for MHA services; avoid repeat visits to the emergency room; increase capacity for a total of 36 adult and youth beds; and help end hallway health care for the Burlington community. More can be found at keepcarenearhome.ca.

I am grateful to have our local hospital as a key partner in our city (during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the task force) and a participant in every COVID-19 town hall meeting we have held. We have a mental health pandemic running alongside COVID-19 – the former existed long before the latter, and the pandemic has only exacerbated it.

I thank the hospital staff for their continued service to our community. It’s an incredibly important need, and it’s only going to get more pressing.

Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward can be reached at mayor@burlington.ca.

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